“The store and the blender pumps have actually been in operation since January and we’re promoting biodiesel now during our fall celebration,” said Daric Zimmerman, Retail Marketing Director for Staples Enterprises. “With these pumps, we now carry up to five blends of biodiesel here at our Heron Lake store.”
Biodiesel, made primarily from the oil of Minnesota-grown soybeans, has been successfully added to every gallon of diesel sold in the state. Biodiesel is the only domestically produced, commercially available fuel that meets the criteria of an advanced biofuel. Biodiesel can be used in existing engines and fuel injection equipment in blends up to 20 percent with no modifications.
According to Zimmerman, it was important for Staples Enterprises to continue their support of the local markets in which they operate. “We felt that the installation of these blender pumps helped further show our commitment to the area and the local producers.”
Officials point out that the pumps gives customers more choices in their fuel options.
Officials in Iowa are looking to up the choices consumers will have when filling up with ethanol and biodiesel. Gov. Terry Branstad announced a new public-private partnership called “Fueling Our Future” that will use state dollars to leverage investments in existing renewable fuel infrastructure to establish more blender pumps containing E-30 and biodiesel at gas retailers around the state.
“This pilot program will provide Iowans with additional access to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, which will help our farmers, communities and economy in producing, processing and profiting locally,” said Branstad.
The Fueling Our Future program will be supported by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Department of Transportation, Iowa State University and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board.
“Iowa leads the nation in renewable fuels production, and has led in developing markets for E10, E15, E85 and biodiesel over the last 30 years,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “But never one to sit still, Governor Branstad is already looking down the road to the next five to ten years. I want to thank Gov. Branstad and his team for the new ‘Fueling Our Future’ program that will continue to build on the successes this state has had in renewable fuels, and will position Iowa to lead the way in E30 and biodiesel availability.”
More information on the state’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program can be found here.
Understanding what the auto industry wants and needs… and how ethanol can meet that… all while battling Big Oil and even the government… that’s the daunting task the ethanol industry has been facing for some time.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with Dave Vander Griend, the co-founder and president of one of the world’s largest ethanol plant engineering and construction firms, ICM. He talks about how first the ethanol industry needed to identify what the auto industry needed and then what the refineries were producing, a first on both counts for the ethanol industry. He says once his industry was able to see what the car makers wanted, it was easier to figure out how to counter some of the arguments Big Oil has been making against ethanol.
Meanwhile, the Urban Air Initiative, a group that looks to reduce the threat to public health posed by petroleum-based fuels, issued a white paper, dispelling Big Oil’s myths and countering what the group characterizes as an erroneous report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would hurt ethanol.
Fuels America recently hosted a briefing on the Hill (Washington, D.C.) to give an update on the so-called “blend wall.” Energy experts and biofuel industry representatives discussed the need to provide consumer choice at the pump. Other topics discussed during the event included: benefits of renewable fuel; penetration of new fuels like E15 and cellulosic ethanol into the marketplace; compliance flexibility; and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).
Panelists for the event included:
Tom Buis, CEO, Growth Energy
Dr. Andy Randolph, Engine Technical Director, Richard Childress Racing
Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President, Industrial and Environmental Section Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
Bruce Vollan, Midway Service, Inc.
Bob Casper, President, POET Ethanol Products
Tom Buis kicked off the briefing and noted the timing of the event happened to coincide with a spike in oil prices – now higher than $100 per barrel for domestic oil. He said that the oil companies are touting all the oil – new oil finds, oil from shale (i.e. fracking) oil drilled from oceans, and arguing that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is not needed. “Well I think this morning’s headlines is just another good example of yes we do. Yes, we need a competitive, alternative to fossil-based fuel.”
“It’s taken a little while to get here but we’ve done it and now I’d like to welcome you to Phase 1 of what we call a bio-diesel blending station. I think it’s the first of its kind in North America as a cooperative between local government and a non-profit, with significant help from Van City Credit Union,” [Brian Roberts, president of the Cowichan Biodiesel Co-op] said.
The idea is to allow the regional district to fuel up its vehicles with biodiesel right at Bings Creek.
“CVRD vehicles will be able to use a blend of biodiesel, anywhere from five per cent up to 50 per cent and 100 per cent biodiesel. This allows the CVRD to maximize the amount of biodiesel they can use in any one vehicle to whatever the warranty limitations may be, and if there are no limitations, we can go to 100 per cent biodiesel to make that vehicle carbon neutral,” Roberts said.
The cooperative uses local waste cooking oil as its feedstock.
KiOR has announced that its commercial scale cellulosic gasoline and diesel production facility in Columbus, Mississippi has achieved several key operational milestones. The first achievement was that the facility’s Biomass Fluid Catalytic Cracking, or BFCC, unit has completed its first uninterrupted 30-day run. In addition, the facility made its first shipment of cellulosic gasoline on June 28, which represented the first fuel shipment since March, 2013. On the same day, the facility commenced regular shipments of both gasoline and diesel.
“Commencing regular shipments of gasoline and diesel is very significant for KiOR, as it reflects the continuous improvements in our operations at the Columbus facility,” said Fred Cannon, KiOR’s president and CEO. “We have been undertaking considerable reliability and optimization efforts in areas of the facility unrelated to KiOR’s core technology. The success of these efforts gives us confidence, more than ever, that the performance targets for the Columbus plant are attainable in the months ahead and that our operating assumptions for our next, larger Natchez plant are reasonable.”
Cannon continued, “With the facility operating stably and producing cellulosic gasoline and diesel at commercial scale, we believe we are on track to achieve steady-state operations before the end of the calendar year and to demonstrate improving performance metrics over that timeframe. The largest commercially producing cellulosic production facility in the world, we expect Columbus — enhanced with our recent optimizations — to be the basis of our second facility’s design at Natchez,”he concluded.
Ethanol is good for taking harmful particles out of automobile emissions, but a group committed to cleaner air is worried that gasoline makers might just end up putting more particulates in the blendstock.
“The [ultra-fine particulates] profile of the ethanol is very, very consistent,” but Greg Krissek, Director of Government Affairs for ICM, part of the Urban Air Initiative, told Joanna during the recent Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Renewable Fuels Summit that as ethanol blends get higher, gasoline makers are increasing the amount of particulate-forming ingredients on their end.
But Greg is still optimistic that higher ethanol blends will be used in the future. “I think there are very positive discussions with automakers about how to use mid-level blends. What we don’t want to happen is the unintended consequence down the road of what happens to that gasoline blendstock.”
The first Navy plant in the Mid-Atlantic region to use B20 is located in St. Julien’s Creek Annex in Portsmouth, Virginia. The biodiesel blend will provide steam to heat 16 office buildings and 13 warehouses. Over the course of the winter, 235,000 gallons of B20 are expected to be used to create the heat.
Previously the plant used traditional, petroleum-based fuel oil. According to the National Biodiesel Board, the B20 blend is priced competitively with the petroleum based diesel, and will not increase the Navy’s costs to heat the base, while helping to meet the Secretary of the Navy’s goals for greater energy security.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy) Tom Hicks recently experienced a first-hand look at how biodiesel is being used to heat a Navy base. “The Navy uses an annual average of 30 million barrels of fuel per year which equates to about $4 to $5 billion of fuel cost,” Hicks said during the tour. Because of this, it is important to explore additional and alternative sources like we see here today at St. Julien’s Creek.”
Hicks continued, “This is a perfect example of what the Navy is trying to do by using B20, a 20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent conventional fuel to run the steam plant from domestic sources that are competitively priced.”
Propel Fuels is believed to be the first in the nation to sell consumers algae-based fuel at the pump compliments of Solazyme Inc. The two companies have joined together to offer Solazyme’s algae-based Soladiesel®BD in the Bay Area. The month long pilot program provides the biofuels industry the first opportunity to test consumer response to the advanced biofuel.
According to a statement from Propel, Solazyme’s high quality algae-based SoladieselBD meets or exceeds ASTM quality specifications and has shown performance enhancements including cold temperature operating performance. The fuel is compatible with existing diesel engines and Propel is guaranteeing the fuel’s performance. The algae-based fuel will be sold at the same price as conventional diesel fuels and will be available exclusively at Propel’s Clean Fuel Points in Redwood City, San Jose (N. First St.), Berkeley, and Oakland.
“Propel is committed to providing our customers with access to the highest quality, most sustainable, domestically produced fuels, so we’re proud to introduce the next generation of fuels to the retail market,” said Matt Horton, CEO of Propel Fuels. “Propel’s growing station network provides the critical link between these future fuels and today’s consumer fuel tanks, giving our customers a chance to make history.”
Solazyme’s technology platform converts plant sugars into oils in a few days. Testing undertaken by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that, in a 20 percent blend, SoladieselBD significantly outperforms ultra-low sulfur diesel in total hydrocarbons (THC), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter tailpipe emissions. This includes an approximate 30 percent reduction in particulates, a 20 percent reduction in CO and an approximate 10 percent reduction in THC.
“Solazyme’s revolutionary algae-based technology platform has supplied our development partners and customers with advanced biofuels that meet or exceed some of the world’s most stringent fuels specifications and requirements, “ added Bob Ames, VP of Fuels, Solazyme. “We’ve successfully demonstrated our land-based fuels in fleet vehicles and corporate busses, and are excited about this pilot program with Propel because it enables us to make these fuels available to the public.”
IRFA has sent letters to the heads of 12 auto manufacturers asking them to follow the trend set by Ford Motor Company and General Motors and endorse the use of E15 as approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as an option for owners of cars and light duty trucks newer than 2001.
The letters stated, “It’s now been just over two years since the U.S. EPA authorized the use of E15 in new cars and light duty trucks sold in the U.S. Recent announcements by General Motors and Ford Motor Company that E15 is recommended for use in their new vehicles clearly demonstrates that ample time has passed for automakers to react to the EPA’s announcement and offer vehicles for sale in the U.S. that give consumers the fueling choice they deserve.”
The letters continued by asking if E15 is a recommended fuel for the company’s model year 2013 cars and light duty trucks sold in the U.S. If E15 is not a recommended for use in the company’s model year 2013 cars and light duty trucks, the IRFA also asked, “Given the two years to research and prepare for the transition to E15, please explain why your company chose not to align its products with all of the legal fuel options sold in the U.S.?”
The letters were sent to the heads of BMW of North America, Chrysler Group, American Honda Motor Company, Hyundai Motors America, Kia Motors America, Mazda Motors of America, Mercedes-Benz USA, Nissan North America, Saab Cars North America, Toyota North America, Volkswagen Group of America, and Volvo Group North America.
Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln, Dr. Bruce Johnson, will be addressing the attendees of the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) meeting tomorrow, October 30, 2012 at 10:00 am CDT at the University of Nebraska East Campus Union in Lincoln. He will be discussing the recently released “2010 Economic Impact of the Nebraska Agricultural Production Complex.” The report focuses on the state’s industries involved in growing, processing and transporting agricultural products, which account for nearly one quarter of Nebraska’s total economy. In addition, Dr. Johnson will address the role of the state’s ethanol industry and prospects for future agricultural growth.
“Those energy savings are retained in the domestic economy,” said Steve Hanson, Nebraska Ethanol Board chairman. “The high price of oil and gas is driving up the cost of nearly all consumer products but the ethanol industry is helping to keep the Nebraska economy strong amidst nationwide inflation.”
Phil Lampert, former director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, will also speak at the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting. Lampert is nationally recognized for his work to expand the use of E85 and other higher percentage ethanol blends. Lampert will provide an overview of ethanol flex fuel infrastructure development.
State corn associations across the country are working to bring more choice for consumers at the pump through the use of higher blends of ethanol, such as E15. Several programs are in place to help retailers install the infrastructure needed for consumers to take advantage of EPA’s decision to allow E15 to be used in vehicles 2001 and newer. In addition, the groups are working to install flex fuel pumps that dispense mid-level blends of ethanol such as E20 and E30 as well as E85, blends that can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles.
Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota all have efforts to increase the use of higher ethanol blends in their respective states by helping fund the installation of the necessary fuel pumps. From programs that completely support the installation of E85 pumps for retailers looking to convert multiple locations to programs that help cover the cost of signage highlighting ethanol options.
In addition to the various state programs, there are also two additional campaigns, the American Ethanol partnership with NASCAR® and the Blend Your Own program, to help increase infrastructure, awareness and adoption of higher ethanol blends. Retailers looking for more information on aid for the installation of infrastructure for higher blends of ethanol, visit the Blend Your Own Ethanol website.
In honor of the National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey, Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley Cenex located in Wahpeton, North Dakota will be discounting ethanol fuel blends. On Friday, October 26, 2012, E85 will be discounted 85 cents per gallon, E30 will be discounted 30 cents per gallon and E20 will be discounted 20 cents per gallon. Odyssey Day is a biennial event that promotes the use of alternative fueled vehicles and the ethanol blends are only for use in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs.).
The promotion will begin at noon and end at 3:00 pm. The retail station is located at 2019 9th Street North, Wahpeton, North Dakota.
Supporters of the Wahpeton event include the Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley, National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, North Dakota Corn Council, North Dakota Ethanol Council, North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association, North Dakota Clean Cities and the American Lung Association in North Dakota.
In response to strong sales of E15 in areas where the ethanol blend is offered, Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) announced their recommendations for use of E15 in their new vehicles. GM added the recommendation of E15 for its 2012 and newer vehicles, while Ford recommends E15 for its 2013 and newer vehicles.
In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw said, “The IRFA wants to extend our most sincere thank you to GM and Ford for recommending the use of E15 in new vehicles. I believe Iowa consumers will take notice of GM and Ford’s leadership. This is an important step forward for E15. Thirty years ago, auto recognition of E10 began much the same way. First one company, then others followed. First for new cars, then for the legacy fleet. The pressure is now on other auto manufacturers to follow suit or explain why they offer substandard equipment.”
Retailers, who must first register with the EPA before legally selling E15, began to offer the higher ethanol blend quickly upon final approval for E15 for all 2001 and newer vehicles by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The first retailer in the country to sell E15 was in Kansas and retailers in Iowa quickly followed suit. Last month, Linn Co-op Oil Company in Marion, Iowa became the first retailer in the state to offer E15. Several other Iowa retailers are in various stages of moving to offer E15.
E15 sales in Iowa are proving to be strong right out of the pump. This may be a poor metaphor, but the good news is that Linn Co-op Oil Company, the first retailer to officially sell E15 in Iowa, has seen sales soar to more than 30 percent of the day’s sales after an open house event on Friday, September 21, 2012. The ethanol fuel blend is the most tested fuel blend in the history of the U.S. and is approved for drivers of owning a 2001 or new vehicle, SUV or light-duty truck.
“Friday’s open house event at Linn Co-op proved to be a great success,” said Lucy Norton, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Managing Director. “Attendees showed a deep interest in E15, specifically asking for the fuel and provided a large uptick in E15 sales. Iowa motorists are excited to have another high-octane, low-cost ethanol option that supports local jobs and contributes to the state’s economy.”
As part of the introduction of E15, Linn Co-op held an open house on Friday, September 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with lunch served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. E15 customers received a 15 cent discount on each gallon of E15 purchased.
To introduce E15 to Marion residents, the IRFA, Iowa Corn and the Iowa Power Fund Community Grant Program are sponsoring a media campaign that includes radio and print ads, billboards and direct mail. The campaign will run throughout September. A similar campaign is available to any Iowa retailer who offers E15 for 2001 and newer vehicle owners, says Norton. Retailers preparing to offer E15 in the future are urged to contact the IRFA for promotional assistance.
“E15 is bringing in many new customers to Linn Co-op,” added Jim Becthold, Service Manager for Linn Co-op Oil Company. “During our open house event, I saw countless new faces from all over the county. Also, a great deal of our customers specifically asked for E15 and Friday’s sales reflected that.”